Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend Report: And Then I Accidentally Ran 23 Miles.

Ok so my weekend was good and I did almost everything I’d planned – Wizards game (win! I’m not saying I’m responsible…but they have won every game I’ve been to), and Les Mis (Who am I? I’m Jean Valjean!)

My plan for Sunday centered on a 20-mile training run. I was actually a bit nervous beforehand, since, you know, 20 miles was about to be my longest run ever ever, and 4 miles longer than I ran last weekend. I didn’t actually doubt my ability to do it, but at the same time, how am I to know? Maybe things get cRaZy when I go over 16? 

So anyway, my team (Capital Area Runners) started at Fletcher’s Boathouse to run a looonnnggg loop up through Rock Creek Park, to Bethesda, then back along the Capital Crescent Trail.

We rolled along no problem to Mile 7, where Coach George had snacks and water (oh hello Mocha Cliff Gel!). Then into the next third of the run we began to pick up the pace, per Progression Run rules, along the closed-to-cars-on-the-weekend Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park.

The weather was perfect, Rock Creek is so nice, and everything was going well. Our initial group of about ten dwindled to three as some turning back, some ran faster, and some slowed down.  Three which, had we thought about it, did not know the route (see what I did there? Foreshadowing.).

But we didn’t think about it, we just chugged along, chatting about this and that like you do on any long running experience.

It was me, my friend Chris (who is doing Rock and Roll DC too), and CAR teammate Jamie. Luckily Jamie had a Garmin, and started pointing out at Mile 14 that we should be hitting Coach George’s second water stop any minute…but we didn’t…and we kept running, because what else can you do?

We ran past the covered bridge (wrong), past Connecticut Avenue (wrong), all the way to Rockville Pike (SO WRONG). And we knew it was wrong, but we also didn’t know what was right. As Jamie pointed out, why is it that no one ever gets lost on a run and ends up running shorter? Is this some sort of Murphy’s Law-style running rule? Luckily Chris had shot blocks and gel and water (#prepared), so no one passed out.

As on so many “lost” occasions in my life  – Bodega Beach 1992; Sea World 1997; a Target parking lot in Elko, NV, 2003; every zoo I’ve ever been to ever; etc. –  I knew where I was…the issue was that I didn’t know where the others (in this case, George and the rest of CAR) were and how to get to them.

[From the CAR newsletter this week (thanks George!): And since the technology does exist, I will be looking into the possibility of acquiring some tracking device tags which can easily be stapled to an ear or other fleshy part of the body for those of you who most frequently wander off course. I saw it on the Nat Geo channel....if they can track migrating penguins, we can track migrating CARs....."Whoa! Check this one out! The one they call Mollie wandered all the way up to Rockville while the rest of the flock never got any further north than Bethesda. Interesting."]

We were already at 18 miles when we finally turned south (on the shoulder of a freeway) over a mile north of Bethesda. The knowledge sunk in that it was going to be a 25-mile run, and I was surprisingly ok with that (I think the lack of calories may have affected my judgment.)

(Approximate route.)

Except for a couple less-than-awesome moments, we all refrained from putting on our whinypants. And if I’m going to spend 3:05 running with people, at least they were interesting people I like! We ended up walking the last 2 miles in, like soldiers trudging home from battle (“To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.”*), discussing donuts and all the food we were going to eat when we got home.

This is the run we were supposed to do. This is the run we did.

By the end I needed a hug, but a bagel from George was pretty good too...and then pancakes and 4 hours of couch-time and lots and lots of ice.

Lessons learned:
  • Look at a map in advance.
  • Carry food. 
  • Also, 5 weeks before my marathon, I can run 23 miles!!!

*50 points for knowing that quote. If you did let me know and we can be best friends. (source)